Vita Aid PH Balance – nonsensical claims

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Posted 06 May 2013

A consumer lodged a complaint against an advertisement for Vita Aid PH Balance. The advertisement is headed “Do you get sick often? Do you feel tired all the time?” The copy then states, inter alia, that: “Your body is probably too acidic. The answer to your well-being could be as simple as balancing the ph level in your body and managing your acidity. “… effectively speeding up your body’s immune response rate and packing a punch with loads of new-found energy!” “… Vita Aid pH Balance fights acidity in the body. It helps to balance your body’s pH level, by correcting extreme acidic states commonly associated with gout, diabetes and arthritis”;

The complainant elaborated on why these claims are untrue, illogical and in some instances contradictory. 

Arcadia Home Shopping were unable to prove their claims. 

Vita Aid PH Balance / K Charleston / 21897
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Mr Kevin Charleston Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
 Arcadia Home Shopping (Pty) Ltd Respondent

23 Apr 2013

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6514

Mr Charleston lodged a consumer complaint against an advertisement featured in the Sunday Times newspaper during March 2013.

The advertisement is headed “Do you get sick often? Do you feel tired all the time?”

The copy then states, inter alia, that:

“Your body is probably too acidic. The answer to your well-being could be as simple as balancing the ph level in your body and managing your acidity.

So why is it so important to balance my body’s Ph level?
Think of a swimming pool. Like a swimming pool, our bodies need a slightly alkaline Ph to sparkle. When a swimming pool goes green with algae, the water has too much acidity. When a pool is in this acidic state, a vicious cycle develops. More organisms and bacteria grow, which in turn produces more acid.

Likewise, too much acidity makes your body prone to disease. Your immune response is slower and harmful organisms grow faster.”

Some of the other claims referred to and disputed by the complainant are:

“Our bodies consist of 60% water. To be healthy, that water needs to be in a slightly alkaline state”;

“… effectively speeding up your body’s immune response rate and packing a punch with loads of new-found energy!”

“… Vita Aid pH Balance fights acidity in the body. It helps to balance your body’s pH level, by correcting extreme acidic states commonly associated with gout, diabetes and arthritis”;

“Increase Rate Of Acid Secretion (visible on the product-packaging shown in the advertisement);

“Alkalinise The Blood” (visible on the product-packaging shown in the advertisement); and

“Increase Blood Flow Rate”.

COMPLAINT
The complainant elaborated on why these claims are untrue, illogical and in some instances contradictory. He also referred to previous instances where the Directorate ruled against such claims made by another advertiser, arguing that there is little likelihood that this advertiser will have evidence to make such claims.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
The complainant identified the following clauses of the Code as relevant and applicable:

• Section I, Clause 4.25 – Definitions (Scientific substantiation)

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted that its supplier is in the process of conducting clinical trials on the product. It has therefore taken the decision to “…withdraw the Vita Aid pH Balance advertisement … in the format that Mr Charleston complained about …”

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking may, at the discretion of the ASA, be accepted without considering the merits of the matter.

As the respondent’s undertaking refrain from using the advertisement addresses the complainant’s concerns, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this time.

The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the advertising is withdrawn in its current format within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and is not used again in future.

The respondent’s attention is specifically drawn to the provisions of Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide, which effectively requires it to withdraw the advertising and/or claims at issue from wherever they appear, irrespective of the fact that the complaint was only lodged against one media.

The respondent is also reminded that the provisions of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code call for unequivocal verification from an independent and credible expert in the field to which the claims relate. Such verification needs to relate to the claims used in the advertising, and needs to relate to the product as a whole, when taken at the recommended dose.

 

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7 Responses to Vita Aid PH Balance – nonsensical claims

  1. Mac Mashinini 26 June, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    The Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Check website is very useful in curbing quackery. My concern is that while they were successful in opposing Arcadia’s pH Balance advert in March, the ad is back and the product price has doubled in a fortnight!

  2. Harris 27 June, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    @Mac Mashinini
    Thank you for your input. I am informed by the original complainant to the ASA that a breach complaint has been lodged with the ASA and awaits a ruling.

  3. M Mahango 25 July, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Is Vita-Aid pH Balance increases the rate of acid or decreases the rate of acid? I’ve been diagnosis with acid in my body. I’m the victim of being attacked by all acid related deseases like GERD. I would like to know wether is advisable for me to take this Vita-Aid pH Balance?

  4. Prof Roy 25 July, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    @M Mahango – GERD is gasto-esophageal reflux disease, which is caused by excess stomach acid entering the “esophagus” or “oesophagus.” (This is why it is also known as GORD.) Vita-Aid pH Balance is unlikely to be more effective in reducing stomach acid than ordinary antacids that can be bought in pharmacies or even supermarkets. If, however, this problem has been persistent or long lasting, it may be wise to consult a medical doctor and have some tests done. This can exclude an underlying cause. It may even be necessary to have a gastroscopy done where a tube with a camera is used to examine the inside of the stomach.

  5. Portia Mtshwene 26 August, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    My mum is diabetic, arthritis and complain about being tired all the times, so I am thinking of buying this Vita Aid pH Balance. I need expert advised because I do not what to do any more with mum, she 56 yrs old mother.

  6. Kevin Charleston 26 August, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    @Portia. I would strongly advise against just taking any off-the-shelf product. You definitely need expert advice – particularly where more than one disease is involved. You cannot just believe any product able or advertising – especially where the advertiser is unable to prove that their product is effective for the things they say it is. Please try and get you mother to a proper doctor.

  7. David Kirkness 15 January, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    the ad is back on SABC today !

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